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Rest In Peace, Charlie. (Short Story).

February 28, 2019

cropped-12301412301.jpg“It wasn’t even her real name you know. It was actually Charlotte but she hated that name, so she told people it was Charlie.” The voice was sitting and looking up at him was commenting as he talked to the older woman at one of the foyer tables. The woman talking was named Dorothy Tollerson, about eighty-something thought Andrew with a patient smile, “She was a strange kid if you know what I mean, Andy…” He knew her name because about three years ago he was a teacher at this particular school slash church and she was a secretary. Three years? Only three years? Seemed damn longer. As for Charlie? He had a vague memory of the girl. Was that good or bad? The voice was still talking away.

“She was a rebellious child, Andy…” Mrs. Tollerson patted her open Bible with affection, “I remember her unpleasant manner, she carried herself as if she were better than those around her. Didn’t talk much to anyone…”

He hated being called Andy and maybe she would stop saying it at some point; he was an Andrew but he gave up correcting people on that fact. It was like being a David in the land of the Mid-west called Minnesota and eventually your name becomes Dave whether you like it or not he thought. The woman was still talking.

“…She was simply an odd and unpleasant girl. Her parent’s have been going to this church for over twenty years I believe. I know her mother as a nice godly woman with one daughter she felt was a disappointment I am sure by her odd behavior…” She turned a page on the Bible, “She was an embarrassment to her family, Andy. Walking around with that unsmiling face as if she just dared anyone to be nice to her. My niece, Carolyne, tried to be her friend and she simply was unpleasant to my sweet pretty niece…”

Andrew couldn’t picture Carolyne.

“…She simply decided to drive people away. Her sister, Emily, is a very friendly sweet girl and is pleasant to everyone. She thought she knew better than everyone and had an opinion about everything…she was simply an odd girl…”

Andrew simply nodded to be nice because punching the woman in her gossipy mouth wouldn’t go over well at the girl’s funeral and she was in her eighties after all. He was surprised that she had yet to realize he use to work in the same school as her. Granted he wasn’t a teacher but for three years but he hadn’t changed that much had he? She certainly hadn’t changed much; still liked to talk about people.

He commented, “What odd behavior?” He knew where this was eventually going to go. He also took notice of the changes in the church building as she continued.

They had remodeled the foyer area; it looked good and much larger.

“Her mother is a godly woman married to a wonderful man who is a doctor, I forget what kind, but it’s known they are well-off…” She smiled at this bit of news she was sure she had every right to say, “Her mother, Julie, was a Sunday School teacher here….”

He knew most of this already.

“….Julie has another daughter as I already said, her name is Emily, very nice young lady and certainly nothing like Charlotte…” She made a disagreeable face, “I refuse to call her by that silly name she choice for herself. Nothing wrong with the name of Charlotte….”

What he had noticed about the foyer was how much it had been enlarged by removing the office break room that stuck out into the foyer area like an arrow shaped room. They had even created a counter where the all-important coffee and treats were placed. It was a good piece of construction and did look good and it did make the room much larger than it use to be he admitted to himself. The six small round tables were knew; a dark blue couch and two chairs sat in the corner near the large open window. The walls looked freshly painted; dark blue seemed to be the color they choose despite the lite brown carpet. Yes, Andrew thought, they certainly went out of their way and probably money to enlarge and improve the look of the front and foyer of the church; it did look better.

“…Emily is in college and doing quit well I hear. I would have ask again what she is going for…”

“Isn’t she here today for her sister’s funeral?” He was taken back a bit how few people were at the funeral service and granted it didn’t start for another hour but still wouldn’t there have been more people? At least some of the kids? He figured there would be more people here than there was for one of their own.

“Emily and her parent’s are in one of the rooms with Pastor Geoff….” She looked at him with a strange look, “I don’t mean to be rude, but I have been talking to you but didn’t you once come to this church?”

He took notice of a lone girl walking passed them and down the hallway; she looked familiar but it had been a while since he had taught at the school. Well, at least one teen was there to pay their respects. Better than no one? He politely answered.

“I use to teach here, Mrs. Tollerson and attend of course.” Her look really didn’t change all that much, “I taught ninth grade English and creative writing…” Adding as it mattered to him, “Sometimes I taught history for Mr. Gregory…”

The face frowned, “You didn’t have the beard back then that’s why I don’t remember you, Mr. Neslen wasn’t it?”

Her tone said it all, “Yes, I taught here a while, I believe my last year would have been her first year of ninth grade…” He could still the skinny young girl of fourteen sitting in back of the class with the expression on her unsmiling face of just wanting to be somewhere else. Dark long hair, dark eyes that looked at the world only one way and that was sadly it seemed to him. Though she did always seem to be reading a book before class actually started. Certainly a bookworm.

“I’m surprised you have come here at all let alone for a funeral of someone you couldn’t have know very well…”

“She was a student in my class, Mrs. Tollerson, she deserves to be remembered…” He didn’t like her snarky answer, “I remember her being a good student, did her work, and was passing my class with very high grades.”

Some voices came from the hallway and into the foyer area; they both watched as several people chatted and laughed a bit as they headed to the sanctuary. He recognized only one of them; Tom Johnson, deacon. He looked about the same but it was only three years ago he saw the lanky man who wore bow ties. Andrew didn’t recognize the other guy chatting with Tom.

“That’s our new youth pastor, rather young to be a youth pastor around all those young girls but we voted and he started a few months ago…”

He studied the woman carefully before commenting, “I assume you mean not Tom but the other younger guy, what’s his name?”

The expression simply wasn’t going to change, “Names Mark Jensen, he’s married luckily, but he’s doing okay. I didn’t vote for him as I think he is too young and not enough pastoral years under his belt. Nice guy I am sure and the kids like him I suppose, but still, he’s too young…”

“I see Tom Johnson is still here?”

No change, “Yes, he’s still the head deacon.” She sipped her cold coffee, “So, you came to Charlotte’s funeral, how did you hear of it?”

The front entrance door opened and several people came in talking; not one teenager he noted. He took notice of those who had entered and again they didn’t look familiar. He was beginning to wonder if he was going to recognize anyone who came into the building. Tom Johnson he knew and had been friends with. It was apparently the guy didn’t even see him sitting with Mrs. Tollerson. Tom was also a teacher at the school and taught science and probably had Charlie in his class. He was a nice as far as he could remember much about the guy. “Tom was good guy, had a great wife named Chloe if I remember that correctly…”

“She’s pregnant again.”

“Okay.” Being polite despite the tone of the woman he wanted to get away from, “They had three last time I saw Tom and Chloe…” Trying to remember their names, “Two daughters if I remember correctly. I think the oldest was Kelley, second was Kathy…”

“She’s having twins.”

“Well, they like having kids, they like to have a big family I think Tom once told me.” Adding, “Their only son, I believe is named Kyle? Sounds about right.”

“Yes, Kyle.” Returning to another subject, “How did you hear about the funeral?”

“I ran into a friend of church at the bookstore and he told me about Charlie’s death…” From the outside window he could see the person in question; Alan Davisdson was of course parking his mountain bike at the bike rack. Alan had rode that thing today of all days despite the fact it was bloody ten degrees outside and that wasn’t counting the below zero windchill; well, it was winter in Minnesota. Despite the figure all bundled up he knew who it was before Alan ripped off the ski mask and exhaled the cold air with a look of one wondering why he did this at all. Of course the backpack was with him as he shoved the mask into it’s unzipped part and headed to around the back of the church; must be working the funeral thought Andrew. He was sure that Alan wasn’t thrilled with that. Why was he parking the mountain bike in the front anyway?

Answering her question, “Alan Davidson told me, I ran into at Barnes-Noble while at the cafe they have there. He told me about her suicide…” Her expression simply didn’t change despite what he was saying, “He knew her well enough…”

“Yes, Alan, does spend a lot of time around the kids…”

Shrugging his shoulders, “They like him. Kids simply like him and even he doesn’t know why but they do. He had one kid who followed him everywhere after her class was over on Wednesdays. Helped him clean up…”

“Yes.” The look and tone said it all, “The Nelson kid. What was her name? Their not here anymore…”

“Annabelle.” He doubted she forgot anything. Most people he realized who gossip forget nothing. This woman liked to talk and liked to gossip. “She, if I remember correctly from Alan, was into ballet…” The features didn’t change, “And simply liked to help him clean up…”

Interrupted with a look of disgust at something, “He should just do his job and not be interacting so much on the clock when he’s working. But it’s not my call to make but it seems awfully questionable…”

“No one made her help, Alan, she liked to help him and it kept her out of trouble by being busy. Her mom certainly knew where she was…”

“Yes, yes, I am sure she did.”

He ignored what the woman was implying. “Annabelle wasn’t the only one who liked to help him, Mrs. Tollerson. No one forced them to help. Alan just gets along with kids because he treats them like kids and not a bother to his day…”

The voice boomed from behind him.

“Hey, Andrew, is that you!”

Turning around just in time to have a beefy hand of Tom Johnson shoved into his own and shaken with great enthusiasm and with an apology.

“Sorry I didn’t say hi when I first saw you, I was discussing the funeral, but it’s great to see you…”

Pleased to see him, “Hello, Tom.” He got the impression the man wanted to hug him but the guy refrained, “Nice to see you again…”

“Glad you are here, such a tragedy, such a terrible tragedy about Charlotte. Such a young girl to do that to herself…”

“Yes, she was a sad girl…” So cliched it bothered him for saying it. She sat alone in a classroom full of fellow students but the truth of it was she was simply very shy; a very true introvert. He continued, “Yes, I was shocked when I heard about her death…” Why did everything sound like a cliche at these moments of human tragedy? He felt Mrs. Tollerson staring at him with those unblinking eyes of hers, “She was a good kid, how’s the family holding up?” He could see that all this was bothering the man, “She was a good kid…” Why did he feel he had to keep saying that phrase? She was a good kid who killed herself by slitting her wrists in her bathtub because being such a good kid people loved her and she knew it? Good kids don’t kill themselves? Bitterly, yes they do. Bullied kids certainly do!

Tom was talking, “….They are doing as best they can under the circumstances. Their with Pastor Geoff at the moment.”

He nodded; he could see there was something on his mind.

Feeling for the man, “How is Chloe doing? The kids?”

More relaxed Tom spoke up; other people started entered the building and going about their business; Andrew simply listened.

“Chloe is doing very well, pregnant again. Twins this time….” Amused, “Well, that’s what the ultrasound is telling us. The kids are doing well, their healthy, excited for their coming new siblings….”

“Five kids is almost a volleyball team…” He felt the need to say something, “The church foyer certainly has changed quit a bit. When did this happen?”

“Two years ago.”

Some people walked by saying hi to Tom; he greeted them; Andrew observed the others in the room and still oddly enough very few teens had entered the room as far as he could tell. And who were most of these people as he recognized none of them.

Tom returned to the unpleasant subject, “I wish I could handle this better than I am, it was such a shock when I heard the news….”

He had to ask, “Why do you think she did it?” It was a crude unfeeling way to ask the question but the look in Mrs. Tollerson’s face edged him on, “What was making her so unhappy here that she would kill herself?”

Mrs. Tollerson spoke up, “It was a sin issue, Pastor Tom, a simple sin issue…”

“A sin issue?” Andrew wasn’t that surprised by her comment.

Pastor Tom wasn’t convinced, “In what way, Mrs. Tollerson?” The look said it and mostly that she was stepping over a line, “I think she was just an unhappy girl…” He shoved his hands into his pockets, “Charlotte was a good kid….”

They all said that thought Andrew thinking it was the worse of cliches on days like this.

“A good kid doesn’t do the things she did or act the way she did, Pastor Tom. And they certainly don’t kill themselves because of having issues with the other kids…”

“What’s that suppose to mean? The other kids? What issues did she have?”

To Andrew they seem to be dancing around being simply to the point. Yes, he thought, they both knew something and were simply not saying it with too many ears around? Another reason he hated funeral’s was the feeling he was invading the families personal lives and or their personal grief.

She was talking, “….She was a strange girl, asked strange questions, and I’m not even sure she was a true believer, Pastor Tom….” Standing up slowly, looking at them with that all seeing look, “Look, I do not wish to speak ill of the day, her family is going through enough as it is, but Charlotte was a moody child and if she felt bullied she brought it on herself by her attitude….”

Pastor Tom’s impatience surfaced a bit, “She brought it on herself? No one has a right to bully anyone in a church, Mrs. Tollerson. I find it just as bad as bullying. In fact it’s just verbal gossip that destroys people just as bad as any other form of bullying.”

“My niece, Carolyne tried to be her friend…”

Andrew tried to remember what Carolyne looked like; it was too long ago from the place to remember everyone. He could see that Tom was growing weary of the conversation but was too polite to say it.

“….Carolyne is friends with everyone. Everyone likes her. Very popular. Very pretty of course as she takes after my daughter, Kari…”

Kari he remembered; actually Kari was quit a nice person Andrew thought if he remembered correctly; taught piano as well.

“Carolyne attempted to befriend Charlotte, she is always so helpful toward others…”

“You said she felt bullied, Mrs. Tollerson, by who?” The impatience was there thought Andrew; some things don’t change he thought with a smile; he noticed Alan enter the foyer, look about the room as if all the people shouldn’t be there, and headed toward the offices with a look in his direction with a half smile. The guy carried his thoughts with every look and didn’t bother hiding it.

The woman’s features remained the same, “My Carolyne is a good person, tried to befriend her.”

“No doubt.” Tom replied waving to a elderly couple walking by who slightly waved back with a somber look, “Who did she feel was bullying her?”

“Not my Carolyne, never.” She dared him to contradict her and that was obvious, “Charlotte took their normal kid pranks too seriously, Pastor Tom, way too personally. She had no sense of fun. Always mopping about…”

“What happened?” Andrew spoke bluntly; Tom wasn’t going to.

“Supposedly Charlotte was pushed into the janitor’s closet with the lights out, they closed the door on her and wouldn’t let her out….she panicked for no reason.”

“And you don’t see the problem with that?” Again Andrew spoke for Tom who really did look uncomfortable. “She was obviously afraid of the dark, Mrs. Tollerson, what they did was gruel, not funny to her…”

“They were only joking around with her, Andrew. Simply having fun  with her and she acted like they were physically hurting her…”

The voice came from behind them, “She hated the dark and they jammed the door closed, Mrs. Tollerson. She was crying when I found her…” Kirsten smiled at their look, “They left her in that closet, Mrs. Tollerson, I found her and let her out.” She stood folding her arms. She smiled at Andrew, “Hey, Mr. Neslen, nice seeing you again though it would be nice somewhere else and for a better reason…” She extended a hand which he shook, looking at the others, “Don’t worry, I wont touch you with my hands.”

Pastor Tom spoke up, “It’s been a while, Kirsten…”

“Not long enough. But Charlie was a friend so I owe her my respects…” Not at first looking at Mrs. Tollerson who glared back offended by the girl in the mixer of black and purple tipped hair, Beattle’s t-shirt over the black turtle neck, and black pants with dark purple knee high boots. And she was enjoying the effect it was having on those who noticed her.

Pastor Tom was talking, “…Long or not, it’s good you came to pay your respects. It’s a tragedy…”

“The tragedy is that it came to this, Pastor Tom.”

“Yes, it’s a tragedy.” He responded measuring his comments, “You said she was locked in the closet?”

“Yes, I, um, let her out of the closet one could say…”

Andrew really tried to not smile at the comment; Kirsten pretended she didn’t notice.

“It’s all shameful.” Mrs. Tollerson spoke up.

“What’s shameful? The fact that Carolyne and others locked her in a closet or that they made fun of her questions she would ask during class? Or the fact she was my friend…”

“You were an awful influence on her.”

Kirsten smiled at her, “Thanks”

Mrs. Tollerson didn’t like the answer; Andrew tried to not react.

“What questions?” Pastor Tom asked noticing the room filling up a bit more, “I would like to understand, what questions, Kirsten?”

Kirsten McQueen liked the attention, “She liked to read books not found in the Bible and ask why they were not there…”

“What books? Catholic books?” Pastor Tom asked calmly because he was calm; he did care why Charlotte killed herself and he wanted to know why she did. One of the kids in the youth group killed themselves for a reason and he wanted that reason explained! “What book did she talk about?”

More people where finally entering the large foyer; some mingling about, others chatting down the hallway, others entering the sanctuary where even where he was standing he could see the closed casket; even a kid here and there finally where showing up. He was bothered by that fact but what was he going to do. It made him feel as if he was indeed intruding on a families loss and grief to say something to a girl he really barely knew. But Alan had told him and Andrew felt he should show up; where was Alan anyway? Must be a working funeral as always Andrew thought.

Kirsten was talking, “….Charlie was into the stuff that talked about the Bible but not in the Bible. She liked that book mentioned by, um, Jude, I think…”

Andrew actually answered that question, “Book of Enoch.”

“Ya, sounds about right. She asked why if it was mentioned in the Bible and was used by the writer why wasn’t it in the Bible?”

“When did she ask this?” Pastor Tom asked.

Mrs. Tollerson interrupted, “It’s not in the Holy Bible because it wasn’t written by Holy Spirit, that’s why, Kirsten…”

“So, why did Jude mention it then? That’s all she asked and she got laughed at, made fun of, and made to feel stupid for asking the question.” Adding, “She asked Pastor Whitcombe when he was here anyway….” Amused at something, “I heard he was asked to leave?”

Mrs. Tollerson interrupted, “You have no business to talk, Kirsten. We all know about your shameful life…”

Unmoved, “Charlie simply was asking a question and was dumped on for daring to ask such a question….”

“Pastor Whitcombe made a mistake in judgement and asked to be replaced with the present new youth pastor, Mark Jensen, and is proving himself very good at his job…”

Kirsten held her ground, “Made a mistake? What I heard was more than a mistake in judgement…”

Andrew wasn’t sure why his friend Tom wasn’t being more vocal as this conversation seemed to warrant it all of a sudden.

“You have no business making accusations, Kirsten. He made a mistake in judgement, and on his own he resigned his position.”

Kirsten smiled a bit, “Resigned on his own, huh? Not what I heard.”

“I will not allow gossip in this church, Kirsten.” Tom spoke up a little too defensive thought Andrew, “Ted Whitcombe made a mistake….”

Andrew had heard about the ‘mistake’ from Alan when he ran into him at the Barnes-Noble in Roseville.

“He had an affair, not sure who with as that seems to be a secret around the church which means it wont remain one very long…” Alan had that smile that Andrew wasn’t sure it was a smile or a smirk of amusement; probably both knowing him. “He’s either resigned on his own or was asked to resign…” Alan was looking at him with that look, “What do I know, I just clean toilet’s and vacuum the floor, and pay no attention to anything that’s happening around me…” He smiled with his own look, “I see nothing and care even less…”

Andrew of course laughed at that; and took notice of Alan heading back down the hallway with a look of one not amused by something or maybe amused by everything except he was going to admit to it. No wonder the kids liked him, he simply refused to play the game of acting like he was at church any different than anywhere else he was standing.

“All I know, Andrew me lad,” Alan had continued as they walked down the used history book section of the library, he took a book off the shelf, looked at it briefly, said something to himself that he probably had the book already and shoved it back into the empty space, “That they are in need of a new youth leader…”

“What are the kids thinking?” Andrew had asked as Alan looked at another book he seemed more pleased with.”

“How would I know.” He was responding while reading the book, “I don’t have this one…”

“You know a lot and observe everything and you know it, kids like you and talk to you…” Andrew knew that Alan wasn’t going to say too much as he was sure the kids probably asked him to say nothing but he was sure that some of them talked to Alan Davidson as he was liked by them and they trusted him. Annabelle and her mom did. They had left the church some years ago.

All this after finding out about the upcoming funeral.

“I hate funerals, Andrew. Half the people walking around looking as if it was a normal Sunday and acting as if it were about them and not Charlie…And some of the people really need to look in the mirror and ask themselves whether showing up for a funeral in a practical mini-skirt is the proper attire for a funeral. Both adults do it, kids do it…If I can see more flesh than clothes there is a problem with what you are wearing people!”

“Have to work it I take it?”

Alan gave him a look with that smile again, “Of course I do.”

“I should be there.”

Mrs. Tollerson was talking and looking as if she wanted the conversation to end but couldn’t stop the gossip portion of her mouth from opening, “Look, I don’t know what Charlotte told anyone and I am sure it was all lies. But Ted Whitcombe is a great man of God who simply made a mistake. Jesus forgave him…He is a good man and a good father and husband…”

“Hallelujah, praise Jesus, and it’s BS…”

Tom spoke up angry, “I will not have that language spoken here, Kirsten.”

Standing her ground, “Charlie was my friend. My only friend in that youth group where no one questioned anything and let certain youth leaders say and do whatever they wanted because of their last names. She got a phone call one time during class and answered it and found out a friend of hers had tried to kill herself and was shaken up by it…Mrs. Whitcombe yelled at her to hang up, nothing was more important than what she was teaching and that included a stupid phone call.”

Pastor Tom was going to say something but didn’t; Andrew simply listened; Mrs. Tollerson fumed. And Alan Davidson walked by with a bucket of ice melt and headed outside with a look in Andrew’s direction; the look he gave Andrew said it all and mostly is the day over yet.

“….She had just been told her friend tried to kill herself and was shaken up by the call, she didn’t need to be yelled at by the….”

Andrew noted she almost said the bitch word.

“….Charlie left the room in tears and was still being yelled at.” She looked at them, except Andrew, as she was just daring them to say anything. “She went to the library and she was yelled at there as well.”

Pastor Tom seemed to notice that the room was too occupied to continue the conversation. Mrs. Tollerson didn’t seem to care. He also noticed a few people he did recognized. But they seemed to take no notice of him. A few teens entered the room and went straight into the sanctuary.

Still venting, “Nothing was done about those who bullied her, made fun of it, and made her feel crap all-around…she was made to feel like she was the problem and no one did anything about it. Charlie felt like crap…”

“Such language in the house of God.” She scolded.

“When it becomes one I’ll change my language, Mrs. Tollerson.”

Tom spoke up, “Okay, okay, Kirsten, let’s end this conversation there…” Trying to be patient and knowing it was going nowhere, “Let’s remember why we are all here.”

Kirsten looked at him, “I have to use the bathroom anyway.” Walking away with a look in Andrew’s direction. The look was either wondering why was she there or vindication of why she was there?

Pastor Tom spoke up, “Well, I have to go help Pastor Geoff, I’m sure he is wondering where I am…”

“It was good to see you, Tom.” He shook the man’s hand again.

“Don’t be a stranger, come back more often. You’re always welcome here.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“All I ask.” He walked away with a smile and vanished into the sanctuary.

Mrs. Tollerson spoke up, “That Kirsten is a queer you know, a lesbian, she shouldn’t here…”

Pushing his glasses back up his nose, trying to remain calm, “I thought the church was the exact place she should be at being a sinner and all…”

“Not her, she’s been a bad influence and she was one on Charlotte….” Clutching her Bible to her chest, “I feel sorry for Charlotte’s family and what they are going through right now. So sad for Julie and Emily to deal with this….Charlotte just needed a firmer hand and none of this would have happened…”

“And Kirsten?”

“Filthy girl.”

“I thought Jesus came to save the filthy?”

“Only the repentant one’s, Mr. Neslen.” Adding as she started to walk away, “That girl got Charlotte involved in her filthy lifestyle, that was the sin issue…that’s what killed her, Mr. Neslen, a sin issue…no one bullied Charlotte that much anymore than any other kid in this church…”

“Carolyne seemed to have.”

“How dare you, my Carolyne is a fine Christian young lady and tried to be a friend…”

“How is pushing someone into a closet and not letting her out being a friend?”

“Carolyne was only trying to have fun with her. Charlotte simply over-reacted to them trying to get her to have fun…”

He let her talk. It was pointless to interrupt her. And for someone who gave the impression they didn’t want to talk about it anymore she couldn’t stop talking about it thought Andrew with an impatient look of his own.

“….Charlotte just couldn’t understand that it was all done in fun. She took it all too personally…She had no business questioning the teaching methods of her teachers anyway. Just sit and learn, Andrew, was what she should have been doing. Not asking rude questions about books not in the Bible. Just read the books in the Bible…”

Andrew noticed Kirsten returning, looking in his direction with a look that he couldn’t read, and then heading to the balcony stairs.

“Hey Grandma!” Carolyne shouted as she entered the foyer and headed toward her grandmother with a happy smile, “It’s so sad about Charlotte….”

Andrew watched as the long blonde haired girl in the mini-shirt hugged her grandmother with a smile. Andrew walked away feeling disgusted; he finally remembered the girl and it all made sense.

The funeral was beginning. Pastor Geoff Gunderson was talking as Charlie’s family sat down in the front row.

He sat next to the girl who rolled down her sleeves as Andrew sat down next to her near the shorter seats near the wall; the scars still evident on her wrists, “So, did she tell you I’m a lesbian yet. I’m sure she did.”

“It came up.” He knew why she sat in these particular seats; not many people could sit near her in these shorter seats. She felt safe?

Whispering as they stood up with everyone else as they started to sing, “We didn’t have a relationship, not a physical one…” She smiled a bit, “Well, we did try though….but it was evident she liked boys.”

“Okay.” What else was he going to say? He was sure if the others near them knew what she said they would have screamed in some form of protest.

“I thought she did but she was not into it, she needed a friend more than anything…” She looked at him from corner of her eye, whispering, “She was my friend despite what they all said about me and directly at me…and they did say it. I was called all kinds of name.” The sadness was there, “She simply defended me and that simply made them mock her even more…” lower in her whispering, the tenderness was there, “I gave her the idea about her name change, she never felt like a Charlotte…..she was more a Charlie.” She wiped her eyes, “I refuse to cry in front of these people…”

He agreed.

“…Look at them, singing and pretending to care about her. They disgust me. Charlie deserved better than this show of false tears and loss…” Observing Charlie’s family, “I have nothing against them, Charlie’s family….I’m not sure they even noticed what was going on….I think Emily did….she hates being the favorite…” Looking at the casket below, softly, sadly, “Rest in peace, Charlie….please.” Wiping her eyes again, “I hope you’re happy now…”

He simply nodded as it seemed to him she just wanted to vent as the room sang “Amazing Grace.”

She wiped her eyes, “….she was my friend. She remained my friend….” Amused at something, “She was a lousy kisser…”

Andrew smiled a bit, softly he replied, “Rest in peace, Charlie…”

The girl next to him continued to struggle to not cry; but she lost that battle in the middle of Pastor Geoff’s sermon on the importance that fellow Christians love, pray, and be there for one another and the tragedy of Charlie’s life ending as it did.

Under her tearful breath, “I should have answered the phone…”


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  1. Donell Sigler permalink

    Very good sweetheart.

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